Wednesday, 7 January 2015


I have many friends in Paris and across France. I've already spoken to a couple in the capital. They are safe but shocked. 

They are grateful, too, for the message of solidarity from Nicola Sturgeon and from people all over Scotland.

"This is an horrific and appalling crime, and my heart goes out to all of those affected by today’s dreadful events.

“My thoughts are with the people of France, with whom we in Scotland share so many close ties. Today’s attack once again demonstrates the need for all democracies to stand firm in the face of terrorist atrocities.”

First Minister.
Paris ce soir.
 Drapeaux en berne pendant 3 jours . 
Demain sera une journée de deuil national.
Plus de 100 000 personnes se sont rassemblées 
spontanément dans les grandes villes de France.

My friend André sent this comment. 

Flags at half mast for three days. 

Tomorrow will be a day of national mourning. 

More than 100,000 people gathered spontaneously in the large cities of France.

Ce soir je suis Charlie. Nous sommes toutes et tous Charlie.


  1. Tragic event, sadly it's one among many.

    1. Indeed.

      You wonder what kind of person actually believes that their god would want them to kill totally innocent people. One of the police killed in Paris was, in any case, Muslim.

      And I take no sides in this. There are Jews and Christian, even Hindus who believe that God wants them to enforce his will by violence.

      I'd not like to be them if they believe that paradise or heaven or whatever they believe in, lies at the end of this.

      A friend from Geneva wrote: Si c'est au nom d'un dieu, je ne crois pas et je croirai jamais en ce dieu-là. Mais à mon avis, c'est malheureusement au nom de gens qui se prennent pour dieu. (If it is in the name of god, I do not believe and I never believe in that god. But in my opinion, it is unfortunately in the name of people who think they are god.)

    2. Hardeep put it neatly:

      Cartoons.Satire.Politics. If your belief, your religion, is that strong, that profound, it should be able to withstand any interrogation...

  2. Someone on twitter has said that the policeman shot in the head was a muslim.

    I am Chick.

    1. I read that too Jutie.

      When they bombed the metro in London several of the victims were Muslim.

      But that';s terrorism for you. The two Irish sides used to kill some of the wrong people with regularity.

  3. Very sad for the families involved.

    There are people who will murder people for money and there are people/governments willing to pay for these acts to get a particular point of view across that is how some societies have worked for centuries. True motives for this callous act will never be known as we are to aware of how the media works and truth is not always top of the list.

    Maybe if Bush and Blair were in The Hague these senseless killings would never of occurred.

    1. Yes.

      It may be that Syria is behind it.

      But maybe if just for once some of the people at the top of Western society paid the price for the murder of hundreds of thousands of Muslims, it would placate them a little.

      Still, the people who do this kind of thing know no reason.

  4. According to SKY one of the, now named, murderers had tried to get to Syria to *ahem* join Jihad. Well, in my non political speak mode, if its a war this b*****d wants then he now has got himself one. As the police in Reims are allegedly saying, they will either escape or it will decided tonight!

    1. I hope they get them, Arbroath.

      They seem to have stirred up more than they bargained for.

  5. I hope Munguin will bear with me as this will take a bit.
    I would like to state clearly and unequivocally that I condemn this act of terrorism, I condemn this unlawful murders and I condemn this assault of on freedom of speech.
    As tweeted Natalie McGarry “When horrendous people go on murder sprees across America, they are murderers; whatever their ideology. Same in Paris. Full stop.”
    I think a lot of Muslims (me included) take this freedom of speech for granted. I believe it is important for two reasons; to speak out for those who are silenced and more importantly, to highlight wrongs dressed as truths that go unchallenged. In historical context, a lot of Malaysians were sentenced to death by the British colonial authorities just for wanting independence. Once we gained independence we take this freedom for granted is it not withheld from us anymore. Furthermore in a Muslim majority country, we are not discriminated or profiled simply for our names. I believe it is unthinkable for Muslims in Malaysia to believe they are being actively profiled when they are in UK/Europe.
    These murders are unlawful. I don’t what they think they could achieve with this act. What makes them different for Tony Blair and George Bush? This is what Muslims in Europe don’t understand. You must play by the rule. Change might be late but change will come. This is similar with the indyref. We now know how to proceed. To challenge Westminster’s monopoly on power we must be in it first.
    Terror begets terror. “It's terrifying to contemplate how the Front Nationale will manipulate the shootings. Fundamentalist extremists mutually abet each other @jjarichardson”. This is all too true. This will only lead to a downward spiral in French socio-political life.
    That being said, I cannot agree with the methodology undertaken by Charlie Hebdo in drawing and publishing its cartoons. I find it ironic that Stéphane Charbonnier said he knew nothing about the fastest growing religion in France except acts of extremism/terrorism. So, did it gave a licence to insult something he didn’t actually know? He may think at best he was being irreverent but believe me Muslims take their religion seriously. We take the Prophet’s teaching seriously. We don’t go around insulting other religion (at least reasonable Muslims) and I find it offensive for Charlie Hebdo to insult God/Jesus in its last Christmas cartoon. I would have protested if I were a French Muslim. The argument that laïcité should be a bulwark against the Church/religion has failed because it itself has become the Church/religion it set out to destroy.
    Truly the pen is mightier than the sword. Here I’d like to quote Owen Jones in his open letter to UKIP voters “I'm not going to waste your time or patronise you by preaching the benefits of immigration. Instead, I want to ask you this. Who has caused our country most problems: the bankers who plunged us into economic disaster, the expenses-milking politicians who have the cheek to lecture us on benefit fraud, the wealthy tax-dodgers keeping £25 billion a year from the Exchequer; the poverty wage-paying bosses and rip-off rent-charging landlords; or Indian nurses and Polish fruit pickers?” This incident, abhorrent as it maybe, served only to divert attention from the real problems affecting French society. The malaise plaguing the French surely will be capitalised by Front Nationale like the same being done by UKIP in England. This incident will on inflame feelings on the ground. I’d wager Scottish independence if the UKIP doesn’t harp on this in its campaign.
    At the end what did Charlie Hebdo achieved by publishing crass materials for cheap shots? It could have tackled the problem more effectively. Most Muslims could accept criticism against Islam if done properly. It baited the wrong type of people. Instead, in fighting for freedom and against extremism, it has unwittingly abetted in the growth of the same.
    This incident is a part of a much deep-rooted problem. At the risk of sounding incoherent, I am going to end here.

    1. "We don’t go around insulting other religion (at least reasonable Muslims)" Are you for real?

    2. I don't think that was in the least incoherent, AH.

      I agree with a great deal of what you say.

      I'm not in any way religious, so I can completely disassociate myself from any organised religion and not be seen to favour one above the others. I respect people who believe in a personal way and live their lives according to the teachings of whatever god they believe in, although I think that people who are fanatical about any religion, are among the nuttiest and the most dangerous in the world, whether it is a French terrorist, or the president of the USA believing that God told him to go to war!

      I think that the right of the press to ridicule religion, along with other "authority" or "establishment" figures is a fundamental right least in democracy.

      Although blasphemy is not strictly illegal in Scotland (the laws against it haven't been used for over 150 years here, and are reckoned to have fallen out of use), it is in Northern Ireland and it was only in 2008 that England and Wales abolished the official blasphemy laws.

      Of course, there, blasphemy was only considered to have been committed if it were against the Church of England.

      As you point out, quite apart from the horrific deaths of people doing their job, legally, in a state which has no religious affiliation, what has happened will inflame tensions between the nut case right (FN) and the large immigrant population from France's ex-empire.

      Of course, in France the strength of the FN, hard right, is more discernible than it is in England, because their "right-wing" majority parties are more centrist that the English Tories. It is true that they have a considerable amount of support.

      It could be said that Charlie Hebdo was playing with fire, and that mocking the Prophet was a dangerous thing to do, but that's how life is in France. I'd not want to go back to the days of the 1980s in England where Mary Whitehouse was taking people to court for mocking religion in a play or a book, and where the Lord Chamberlain decided whether art was decent enough for the population to read, see, hear.. So although I accept absolutely that CH was taking a massive risk, the alternative is to buckle down to religion and enforce everyone to show deference to it. That would be intolerable.

      What next? The Queen? The President? The PM? Tony Blair? People like Iain Duncan Smith?

      So I take your point... what did CH achieve by doing this... the answer is obvious and very horrible. Their own deaths, and this morning a very different France.

      But the alternative question would be: What would be the result of saying... OK, we can poke fun at everything in authority...except religion?

      It's not an easy choice to make. But in my opinion, it has to be freedom of speech.

      I doubt I would be brace enough (foolish enough?) to do what they did though.

    3. Anon: No reasonable person of any religion insults another's religion. The trouble is that there are many people of "faith" who are not reasonable.

      Let's keep this discussion civil.

    4. How can I put this, I am an Atheist and as far as religion goes it is a plague on all your houses. I do not insult when people want to talk to their own various invisible friends that is up to everyone as long as I am left alone to ignore you. I would have to agree with Tris that there are lots of unreasonable people of "faith" out there be they Muslim, or Christian. What has fuelled this has to be the various wars fought on behalf of Israel which led to the atrocities of 11th September which caused the various wars since then. I have no idea what brought about the cartoon that caused the death of 12 people, but we in the West have always indulged in lampoonery, and have done even before we invented the printing press.
      I have to say that all this will do is feed the Anti Brigade, like the National Front in France and our own lovely Ukip.
      May I say also to Abu that the ex husband of a friend of mine is married to a lovely lady whose origins are Bangladesh, she is a converted Christian, her elder brother is a Muslim, her younger brother is an atheist just like me. He could not have come to that conclusion in any Muslim country. I would say that just as there are unbelievers here there are as many who are forced as we were in the early days of our church, but we grew up and with education discovered it is better to let people believe as they want. You either have the GOD gene or you do not.

    5. It's such a pity that something that could be (and sometimes is) a force for such good, can also be the cause of so much misery and hatred.

  6. "No reasonable person of any religion insults another's religion." The attitude of the Koran towards other religions goes beyond "insulting" Just read it. The punishment for apostasy under Sharia law is death. Islam is not a "reasonable" faith. Again, just read it.

    1. It's not unreasonable to say that.

      Unfortunately not everyone is reasonable.

      Some Islamic law is strict, but then so is some from other religions.

      In the West we have become accustomed to picking out the nice parts of religion and ignoring the others.

      I remember reading somewhere though that Winston Churchill, when a junior minister in the foreign office or I suppose Empire office ordered a certain course of action in Mesopotamia. The military commander telegrammed that to follow Churchill's instructions would cause the death of many local people. He replied " I do not care how many heathens die as long as the will of His Majesty's government is carried through".

    2. "Some Islamic law is strict, but then so is some from other religions." Sharia has the death penalty for apostasy and for homosexuality. A women's testimony is worth half that of a man and women are discriminated against in numerous other areas notably inheritance. THIS IS SHARIA LAW and is an integral part of the Muslim faith. This law is applied wherever Muslim state is established. We on the left should stand up for our sisters and gay brothers and sisters.

    3. "Some Islamic law is strict, but then so is some from other religions." It's not just strict it is discriminatory against gays, women and non Muslims.

    4. But all religions have that kind of bias.

      gays haven't had a great time from the various and sundry Christian denominations, which have actively campaigned the government (and in some cases used their MPs, MSPs, and most particularly their bishops (as of right in parliament) to block legislation that brought the UK into the 20th century never mind the 21st.

      In some countries, becasue of their active Christianity, gays are put to death!

      The English church has only recently agreed that women can be bishops, flouting the law of the land, and the Catholic church absolutely refuses to allow females into the ministry at all. That is in contravention of equality laws.

    5. Any attempt to discriminate against groups and individuals on religious grounds would and should be roundly condemned in any modern western state. An exception is made for Islam and Sharia. The arrival of Sharia in many communities across Europe discriminates against gays, women and non Muslims. This is not a an issue of the superiority of one religion over another. It simply has to be recognized that a growing population adhere to a blatantly discriminatory ideology and are striving to expand the influence of that ideology. The more that we ignore this, the greater the threat to basic human rights. There is no "turn the other cheek" in Islam. The use of violence is a legitimate tool as espoused quite clearly in the Koran. Contrary to popular belief Islam does not mean "peace" it means "submission".

    6. Further to the above. While Christian fundamentalists would have a hard time justifying violence from pages of their holy book, the Koran is rather more explicit. It is not a great leap to extrapolate violent action from the following admonitions. It is no leap at all:
      •Slay the unbelievers wherever you find them(2:191)
      •Make war on the infidels living in your neighboorhood (9:123)
      •When opportunity arises, kill the infidels wherever you catch them (9:5)
      •Kill the Jews and the Christians if they do not convert to Islam or refuse to pay Jizya tax (9:29)
      •Any religion other than Islam is not acceptable (3:85)
      •The Jews and the Christians are perverts; fight them (9:30)
      •Maim and crucify the infidels if they criticise Islam. (5:33)
      •The infidels are unclean; do not let them into a mosque (9:28)
      •Punish the unbelievers with garments of fire, hooked iron rods, boiling water; melt their skin and bellies
      •Do not hanker for peace with the infidels; behead them when you catch them (47:4)
      •The unbelievers are stupid; urge the Muslims to fight them (8:65)
      •Muslims must not take the infidels as friends (3:28)
      •Terrorise and behead those who believe in scriptures other than the Qur’an (8:12)
      •Muslims must muster all weapons to terrorise the infidels (8:60)

      Pretty black and white, I'd say....

    7. So what is your solution?

  7. The best hope, as always in my opinion for what that is worth, is education. Education in every context in order for people to question what they are being told is the truth by those who wish them to adhere to a set of beliefs which benefit an elite. (The biggest threat to the British elite was the engaging of the Scottish people, providing them with the truth about the corrupt British state and how things could be better. Almost won this time, will do next). Enabling people brought up in Islam access to information and the rights to use that information to question what they are being told is the key. Making it clear that women are not second class people and that the demonization of gays and infidels, as required by their laws, is wrong. How we do that in the British state is beyond me, but pretending that Islam is a peaceful religion and that those who resort to violence in its name are straying from Islam's peaceful path is simply wrong and serves no positive purpose whatsoever.

    1. We need too then, to educate Catholics who won't use contraception and enslave their women to years of carrying babies that they cannot afford to have; to persuade the nuttier protestant types that homosexuals are not worse that paedophiles (Mrs Robinson...grandmotherly lover of 19 year old boy) and the mad ravings of some southern baptist types about the evoils of sex.

      And violence for religion is not restricted to Muslims. As AH said the British state slaughtered many Muslims in Malaysia, desecrated temples in Burma and god knows what the nutters did in Africa, all in the name of their Christian King.

      There's an awful lot of education to be done.

    2. Incidentally the old testament which is supposedly part of Christian faith is chock full of violence too.

    3. Tris, of course heinous crimes have been committed in the name of Christianity and the activities of British imperialists were monstrous; their consequences causing havoc across the world today. The fact remains that Sharia is an integral part of Muslim ideology, discriminates against women, gays and infidels and is spreading rapidly. In addition, Islam clearly states that violence is justified. The bottom line is that Islam poses a present threat whereas the rantings of some Christian nutters do not. Attempting to deflect legitimate criticism of a powerful, growing and extremely discriminatory ideology by referencing other ideologies serves only to distract.

  8. Quite agree, but fundamental Christianity does not pose a realistic threat in the British state or anywhere else in Europe. Islam does.

    1. I certainly don;t deny how dangerous Islamic fundamentalists are, nor that we should do whatever it takes to stop them killing people for their religion.

      Christianity has posed threats in the past. It certainly posed threats over the years in England, and in Scotland, and more recently in Wales as different sects fought with each other over which sect was the better and should predominate... and which sect the current king belonged to.

      I repeat of course what AH was saying about the way that Muslims were treated in Malaysia for example.

      What I am saying is that anyone who believes anything so strongly as some people believe in their religion, is a dangerous nutter.

      One of the things that is so wrong and which causes so much hatred, is the way that the so called Christian countries of the West impose their will on people in the East.

      Do you think that if a middle eastern ruler or two (or four) had got together and decided that Tony Blair was a menace to the world (which he was) and they had bombed London killing indiscriminately hundreds of thousands of people and destroying their environment, that the said ruler(s) would now be travelling around the world first class, advising murderers how to brush up their image, being funded by the UK state and making millions of pounds?

      Doubt it. They would have been captured and killed, or at best sent to the international courts in the Netherlands.

      When George Bush and his acolytes and Blair and his stinking adherents (including the current office manager of Labour in Scotland) are in a cell in the Hague for supporting mass slaughter of Muslims in Iraq FOR NO REASON other than self aggrandisement, then perhaps there will be a more even handed look at the world for the east.

      I'm reminded of how I feel about life in Britain. How unfair it is and how it makes you passionately loathe the ruling classes. Fair enough, I don't want to kill them, but I'd shed no tears for them if someone else did.

      You are a working class, poor person and you fiddle some dole or housing benefit and it costs the country £5,000 and you go to prison.

      You are a cabinet minister and you take £100,000 of housing benefits so your parents can have a nice place to live, and you are asked nicely to apologise and resign your position and pay back a small proportion of it...

      You are a member of the House of lords and you systematically steal money for allowances and you end up (because no one much likes you) going to prison, where you fake a nervous breakdown and are out in 9 days... only to start stealing again in exactly the same way... and you get off with it.

      Or you are a member of a fabulously rich family, say that has something to do with brewing... and you get caught fiddling, and you come down with a severe dose of an incurable illness and then when you are released you suddenly and miraculously are cured and back in business in no time ... and no one does anything about it.

      It's the same sort of thing. Kill some westerners and you will be hunted down. Drop a bomb on a wedding party in Afghanistan and kill families and kids... and it was an unfortunate mistake.

      No wonder they hate the West..

    2. Humza Yousaf has a brilliant piece in today's Herald.

      Cartoons do not insult my faith or the beliefs I hold dear. Those who brutally murder and and gun down innocent men and women do.

      He paints a rather different story of the tenets of Islam.